Bush Institute Backs Immigration Reform as Bullish on US Economy

PHOTO: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents and K-9 security dogs keep watch at a checkpoint station, Feb. 22, 2013, in Falfurrias, Texas.
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A new book published today by the George W. Bush Institute says there is no viable economic reason to keep the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the shadows and promotes the need for immigration reform.

The book, co-sponsored by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, finds immigration reform is good for job creation and adds to the economy through growth.

"It's stagnant," Matthew Denhard, research fellow at the George W. Bush Institute and book author said of the U.S. labor force in an exclusive interview with ABC News. "The native-born workforce is becoming older."

Whereas, he says, 70 percent of immigrants are of working age between 25 and 64.

"When we talk about small businesses -- 18 percent of all small business owners in the U.S. are immigrants," he said. "Whereas only about 13 percent of all people in the U.S. are immigrants ... immigrants fill gaps in our labor force. And we were talking about high skilled and low skilled immigrants."

Denhard's research, which is encapsulated in the new book, "Growth and Immigration: A Handbook of Vital Immigration and Economic growth Statistics," found immigrant-owned businesses generate an estimated $775 billion in annual revenue.

The book, launched today, comes the same week the Senate is expected to vote on comprehensive immigration reform. A recent CBO report also found immigration reform would boost the economy and lower the federal deficit.

Denhard said the evidence is "very clear" that immigrants come here with the purpose to work, and found immigrants are more likely than native born Americans to be married and live in a married-couple household.

"When people have strong family values, it's good for the economy as well," he said. "They value time together and they work hard. And they are trying to make better lives for themselves and for their children."

The research in the book also found that one in 10 American workers are employed by an immigrant-owned business, and more than half of all engineering and technology firms in Silicon Valley started between 1995 and 2005 were founded by an immigrant.

"There isn't a single economic reason that someone should stand against a strong and viable immigration bill passing," Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told ABC News. "It is clear that if you are for small business, you cannot be against immigration reform."

Opponents of the legislation argue that with the country having a 7.5 percent unemployment rate, immigration reform would only serve against the interests of American workers.

"There's been a couple of examples where some ill conceived anti-immigrant bills were passed in certain states and those states found out, unfortunately, that there weren't a whole bunch of people stepping up to the jobs that formerly immigrants had been doing," Palomarez said.

The George W. Bush Institute sponsored the research and book. Bush families have been pushing for immigration reform for decades -- first under George H.W. and later under G.W. Bush during his attempt at reform in 2007.

"Most conservatives want growth," Jim Glassman, executive director of the George W. Bush Institute, said in an interview with ABC News. "That seems to be the focus of their economic policy at any rate. And we think this is a good way to get growth.

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